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Victor Anichebe: Ex-Everton striker says he was victim of racial profiling after being stopped while driving

Anichebe also discusses his hopes for improved societal stance towards equality in a wide-ranging interview; 32-year-old says he has 'unfinished business' in England

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Former Everton striker Victor Anichebe says he's been left tired and angry after he was stopped by police while driving on Merseyside.

Former Everton striker Victor Anichebe says he was the victim of racial profiling after he was stopped by police while driving his car last week on Merseyside.

The 32-year-old, who has also played for West Brom and Sunderland, revealed in a wide-ranging interview to Sky Sports News that he was left "tired" and "angry" by the incident.

Anichebe was pulled over after leaving a petrol station and said he told officers that their behaviour was "a disgrace", before he was allowed to continue his journey without further action.

"A lot of the times, I am a lot more cool and level-headed but because of everything that is going on I am just tired," said Anichebe of his reaction to being stopped by the police.

"They shouldn't have even pulled me over for starters. I was only coming out of a petrol station [and] they were pulling into the petrol station.

"They did a U-turn and followed me for a good five minutes. That is a long time when you are driving. They pulled me over and said I drove over a kerb of something.

Victor Anichebe spent seven years at Everton, before moves to West Brom and Sunderland followed
Image: Victor Anichebe spent seven years at Everton, before moves to West Brom and Sunderland followed

"I told them every single thing that I thought. I said it is a joke, a disgrace and it is only because I am black and driving a nice car that you are pulling me over.

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"They just kept saying the same thing, that this is routine and I shouldn't be angry. But we are, we are all angry. We are tired of all the things that are going on.

"We don't want people to feel sorry for us, I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me that any of this is happening. I just want things to start changing and it has to change pretty soon too."

In response, a spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: "As part of their work day-in-day out officers on patrol will stop people if there has been a concern with their standard of driving.

"It is incumbent on us as a Force to ensure that we keep our roads safe. If someone clips a kerb we may stop them to ensure that there is no other reason, such as driving under the influence of either drink or drugs or even illness or a medical episode, both for their protection and that of other road users.

"If the officers are satisfied that this is not the case then the driver will be allowed to carry on without any penalty as was the case in this instance.

"In just a six-month period last year we had 263 road traffic collisions in which people were killed or seriously injured on the roads of Merseyside.

"Hopefully all drivers will understand why it is so important for us to make these kinds of checks and engage with motorists."

Anichebe was previously approached by police officers in Cheshire while out shopping in 2009 and subsequently received a personal apology from the assistant chief constable, but says he is still in disbelief over the incident.

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Former Everton striker Victor Anichebe says conversation is vital in the fight against racism and that educating both children and their parents is required to provoke change.

"What would happen if that was my brother?" he said. "That is what I kept saying to them. What would happen if that was somebody else that didn't have some kind of status or because I played football and it was more high profile.

"What would happen to them? That is just the thing that kept playing on my mind. It's just not fair.

"In some of these instances I feel sorry for the people. I think it is kind of pathetic but these things have to stop. People need to be educated and we need to try and get through this together."

Anichebe, who says he he has experienced incidents of racist abuse while playing both in England and abroad, attended a Black Lives Matter march in Liverpool and is encouraged by the common desire to improve equality.

"There is more anger," Anichebe said when asked to describe the significance of the movement. "I just feel like people are not going to stop until change happens, whatever that looks like.

"I do feel like a lot of people want change, not just black people [but] I feel white people [also want it] as well."

However, he is aware action needs to be seen first before we can fully reflect on its impact.

"Right now it feels like we are loosing momentum.," he said. "It feels like nothing is really happening."

Anichebe believes strongly that education and conversations between children and their parents is vital to enacting societal change.

"The first thing that we have to do is start educating. You look at some of the incidents that are happening where people are getting racist abuse online and it is crazy to see sometimes that it is [coming from] a young kid that is 11, 12 years old.

"That is not coming from nowhere, that is coming from somewhere. That is coming from hearing it, or the environment that they are in. I think that is a conversation that needs to happen."

Anichebe's desire to improve BAME boardroom representation

Meanwhile, Anichebe also revealed his desire to buy a football club and improve Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) representation at boardroom level within the sport.

"Instead of wanting change, we can be the change ourselves"
Victor Anichebe

The lack of ethnic minority representation in positions of power across sports has come to light through the Black Lives Matter movement in recent months, after Raheem Sterling called on English football to address the problem in June.

"We have to have a seat at the table to really effect change," Anichebe said.

"We can't try and affect change from the outside and looking in. I have seen a couple of players say they want to become CEOs or sporting directors and I think that is what we need to do.

"We need to aspire to these positions. But also, when we aspire to these positions [we then need] to get an opportunity to be in these positions. All of us together have a big role to play."

The 32-year-old has seen former Everton team-mate Tim Howard became a part-owner of English fifth-tier club Dagenham & Redbridge and United Soccer League side Memphis 901.

Speaking of his hopes for such an opportunity to present itself, Anichebe said: "I would like to go down that route of owning a team.

"I do have a group of people that are quite wealthy guys and together we could come together and go down that route."

He added: "I don't see why we can't all come together [as players] and buy clubs. I do think that is another way to really affect change. Instead of wanting change, we can be the change ourselves."

'Unfinished business' in England

Anichebe has not played competitive football in over two years since a brief spell with Chinese side Beijing Enterprise, but is open to another spell in English football.

Victor Anichebe appears dejected after the Premier League match between Sunderland and West Ham United
Image: Anichebe last played in English football for Sunderland

A trial at League One side Doncaster Rovers - managed by former West Brom team-mate Darren Moore - failed to materialise into a contract last year, but Anichebe now says he is in the best shape of his career.

"I feel hungry to play but only if the right opportunity comes. I am working on a lot of other things right now but if the right opportunity comes then I would definitely play.

"Last year I trained with my friend Darren Moore at Doncaster. It was really good to be in and around [the team atmosphere].

"I have had a few options to go abroad but I feel I want to play in England. I feel like I have unfinished business in England. I would prefer to stay in England for another two years.

"Right now is the fittest I have ever been. We will see if a good opportunity comes and I'll assess if I actually want to take it and we'll go from there."

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